Exclusive Black Credit Cards for HNWI

Silver Cards, Gold Cards or Platinum Cards are long gone. The super rich, also known as Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI), nowadays pay with their black credit cards called Centurion, Infinite or Ultima.

Those cards let you transfer hundreds of millions, but who can get one and how?

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To give an idea about what black cards are capable of, let’s start with a recent real example.

When Liu Yiqian presented his credit card for the purchase of the 500-year-old porcelain cup, the Sotheby’s employee had to swipe it 20 times before the purchase was completed.

The cup being auctioned by Sothebys belonged to the emperors of the Qing Dynasty and it was not the price that shocked Mr. Liu Yiqian but he had not expected to be served tea in this ancient cup, while waiting for Sothebys to complete his transaction.

The credit card used to pay for this was a Centurion from American Express, one of the most prestigious credit cards available in the world right today. According to the Wall Street Journal, the delay caused was not due to the credit worthiness of the Centurion card but the mere fact that the auction house had an upper limit, per card swipe, of 1.6 million dollars. And this resulted in the card to be swiped many times before the purchase was completed.

Totally in black, this special piece of card is only given to chosen customers through an invitation.

Most of the credit card firms have similar cards: American Express has the Centurion, Visa the Infinite and in some regions of the world Citibank has the Ultima.

There is no comment from Sothebys to the specific case of Liu Yiqian, but the auction house does confirm that even extremely expensive pieces of art can be paid with credit card. However, the buyer is required to register at the auction and to have his card checked one day before his or her first buy. A Sothebys spokesperson also told the Welt that a buy via credit card is no problem as long as the purchase price is covered and the respective bank is cooperative. That this procedure is common in the industry shows Lius purchase at Christies in November 2015. Liu paid 170.4 million dollars for the painting Nu couch by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884  1920). Of course the payment was done with his Centurion.

Especially in Asia and Eastern Europe the credit card companies do everything in their power to win over the very wealthy. A 24-hour hotline taking care of bookings, concert tickets and more is only the beginning of the conveniences attached to these cards. Even organizing a ticket for the inauguration of US President Barack Obama can be something an employer at American Express has to do for a Centurion owner.

Secretiveness is part of the business Special airport lounges and exclusive rates at luxury resorts are part of the usual treatment black credit card holders get. To set themselves apart, some banks come up with new ways to sway their customers. Sberbank, for instance, gave their best 100 customers a card made out of real gold, studded with over 25 diamonds.

Secretiveness is part of the private banking business when it comes to the super richs credit cards and the credit card companies make good money off of these legendary pieces of plastic.

If one wants to be an owner of such an exclusive piece, one usually already has to have processed a six-digit annual profit through a regular credit card of the company.

The credit card companies make their money not only through the fees charged with every transaction, but also through annual costs. Centurion, for example, charges their customers a one-time fee of 7500 dollars and an annual fee of 2500 dollars or as is the case in Germany 2000 euros.

Even though these high costs exist, the demand for Centurion cards is still very high. It would be interesting to know how many of the worldwide 115.8 million American Express cards actually are black.

The circulation number of the magazine that every Centurion owner receives, gives us a hint that the card is not as rare as people might have thought.

Eccentric Spending

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Alone in Germany and Austria 9100 copies of the magazine are distributed and it is said that the average Centurion owner holds 6.7 million euros and has an annual income of 960.000 euros.

Even if the clients are wealthy, is there really absolutely no limit on their credit cards?

American Express doesn’t give a clear answer to this question. Although there is no general spending limit, a spokesperson confirms that there are individual credit limits.

No limit in the end did sound too good to be true.

American Express knows more or less what their clients spending habits are and therefore, for security reasons, requests that an exceptionally high purchase has to be registered beforehand.

For people like Liu Yiqian such a registration is probably not necessary anymore. He has proven to be credit worthy and high purchases like the one at Sothebys wont surprise American Express anymore.

Visa and Mastercard, the two biggest credit card companies in Germany, are silent when it comes to the credit card limits their wealthy clients have.

Apparently the banks and not the credit card companies set the limit. It is common to have a credit limit of about two monthly salaries, but there are always exceptions.

Skirting foreign exchange control

Why going through the trouble and pay these high sums with a credit card anyways?

In the case of Liu Yiqian there are at least two explanations. Firstly, the Centurion, as most other credit cards as well, lets you collect points, which then can be used as air miles; one dollar or euro usually equals one point. 15.000 American Express points will get you a flight within Europe; global flights cost between 50.000 and 80.000 points.

Liu told the New York Times he never wants to spend money on first class flight tickets again; neither for himself nor his family. Experts say he has already collected enough points to accomplish this goal.

Secondly, the credit card lets Liu Yiqian circumvent the Chinese rules of capital transaction.The Chinese government usually only allows overseas transactions of 50.000 dollars per year. However, the credit card comes from a local department and the high expenses are paid back to that department. By paying with his Centurion Liu Yiqian can skirt the rules, doesn’t violate the law and is able to drink his tea like the emperors once used to.

Get Your Black Centurion Credit Card and you will be welcomed like a celebrity

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If you are looking for a Centurion, Infinite or Ultima or Card, write us or call today +41 44 212 44 04 and we will arrange it for you  hassle free.

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